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Compassion

Compassion and self-compassion

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.” – Dalai Lama
Mindfulness is more than just moment-to-moment awareness, it is a kind, curious awareness that helps us relate to ourselves and others with kindness and compassion.
What is compassion and self- compassion.
Here are some definitions:

Compassion

From the Buddhist point of view, compassion is given to our own as well as to others’ suffering. We include ourselves in the circle of compassion because to do otherwise would construct a false sense of separate self (Salzberg,1997)
Compassion involves sensitivity to the experience of suffering, coupled with a deep desire to alleviate that suffering (Goetz, Keltner, &Simon-Thomas, 2010).

Compassion involves feeling moved by others’ suffering so that your heart responds to their pain (the word compassion literally means to “suffer with”). When this occurs, you feel warmth, caring, and the desire to help the suffering person in some way. Having compassion also means that you offer understanding and kindness to others when they fail or make mistakes, rather than judging them harshly. (K.Neff/self-compassion.org)

Self-Compassion

Self-compassion is simply compassion directed inward, relating to ourselves as the object of care and concern when faced with the experience of suffering (Neff, 2003a).
Kristin Neff in her book Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind, lists three core components of self-compassion: self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness.

1. Self- kindness
Self – kindness is treating ourselves with care and understanding especially when we suffer. Self-kindness is the opposite of judging and criticizing ourselves.
Kindness is about understanding that being imperfect, making mistakes and having distress are part of our everyday life. People cannot always be or get exactly what they want. When this reality is denied or fought against suffering increases in the form of stress, frustration and self-criticism.  When this reality is accepted with sympathy and kindness, we can get more peace and harmony.

2. Common humanity
Suffering, pain, stress and having difficulties is a part of being human.
That also means understanding that every single one of us is imperfect. It is not only you alone, who suffers, makes mistakes or feels like a failure. It’s part of being human to make mistakes and feel bad sometimes.

3. Mindfulness
It is observing your thoughts and emotions with nonjudgmental awareness; being present in the moment even when negative feelings arise.
Self-compassion also requires taking a balanced approach to our negative emotions treating them with acceptance and openness rather than with frustration.  Mindfulness is a non-judgmental, receptive mind state in which one observes thoughts and feelings as they arise, without trying to suppress or deny them. Mindfulness helps us not to be “over-identified” with thoughts and feelings, so thanks to that we don’t get caught up and swept away by negative reactivity.

Many research show empirical evidence of the connection between mindfulness and compassion, consistently finding over the past two decades that mindfulness increases empathy and compassion for others and for oneself. Self-compassion is associated with a number of health benefits, including:

  • Lower levels of depression, anxiety, and rumination.
  • Greater ability to cope with negative emotions.
  • More positive emotions like happiness, wisdom, and connectedness.
  • Increased optimism.
  • Showing more personal initiative.